By Gary R. Rasberry
ELIDA -- There was nothing that was going to keep Parkway from getting the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning against Allen East in the Division III sectional final.
Not even a 30-minute delay for lightning.
After the break, Kristin Roth, who came in to replace an injured player, singled home Brittany Young to give Parkway a 3-2 win over the Mustangs at Dorothy Edwards Field in Elida on Wednesday.
The win gives Parkway (15-6) a berth in the district semifinals Tuesday at Elida against fellow sectional champ Coldwater -- which by way of the schedule, plays Parkway tonight in the conference wrapup -- at Elida. Allen East ends the tournament run at 15-9.
After scoring chances didn't pan out in the previous innings, Parkway started off the eighth inning with Young getting hit by a pitch. Lightning then flashed south of the field and the umpires ordered both teams to the dugout for a mandatory 30-minute wait. After the break, Erica Yoder looked to move her teammate up with a bunt, but beat out the throw to first base for an infield single. Jayme Marbaugh was then hit by another pitch from Alyson Reese.
Roth, who came in to play second base when Megan Smith injured her arm, stepped up to face an extremely moved-in infield and outfield, all looking for the bunt or a short hit where they could make a play at the plate. Roth grounded a 2-2 pitch past the second baseman, allowing Young to dash home to end the game.
"It's funny how it works out," said Parkway coach Mark Esselstein. "Megan gets hurt and Kristin steps up and gets the job done. I loved the way we stayed mentally tough. I would hate to be in their (Allen East) shoes, because it's a tough way to lose."
The game was held up twice when lightning was spotted in the area during the afternoon's storms. The first delay took nearly an hour as the teams remained in their dugouts.
Parkway had chances to keep the game from extra innings, but a mix of strong defensive plays by Allen East and mishaps on the basepaths kept the game tied.
In the fifth, Ashley Gamble was struck by a pitch, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and looked to score on Young's single. Rounding third, through, Gamble slipped and was caught in a rundown before getting tagged by Mustang first baseman Brittany Engle.
In the sixth, Roth was hit by a pitch and the injured Smith was still able to return to run and stole second. Jennifer Murphy then hit a fly that looked to drop into short center, but Mustang centerfielder Katie Elsass dove and made a spectacular catch that even had Esselstein smiling.
"When Ashley got into the rundown between third and home, I was sending her all the way, then she stumbled," said Esselstein, who now has 301 career wins. "Then that girl made the great catch. We had a lot of things go against us, but we persevered and stayed mentally tough and we got the job done.
Meanwhile, Tiffany Steinbrunner shut out the Allen East bats. After giving up the two runs in the top of the fourth, Steinbrunner allowed just one base hit and no other baserunners for the final four innings of the game. Steinbrunner struck out nine and walked just one.
"We played good defense," said Esselstein. "I think she got mad (after Allen East scored) and once we scored and answered their runs, she relaxed and pitched the way she could pitch."
Reese allowed just six hits on the day, but walked two and hit four batters along the way. Still, the sophomore was able to get out of several jams that could have kept the game from going to extra innings.
"It seemed like every time we had a delay, our pitcher had to go out and pitch," said Mustangs head coach Bill Mattevi. "She handled it well. I didn't pitch Skyler (Foster, Allen East's top pitcher) because she's just coming back from injury. (Reese) started the year as my number-three pitcher."